Like much of the world, I'll never forget where I was when I first saw the video of a young woman dying in the streets of Tehran, murdered for standing up for the basic rights every human deserves. I didn't quite know what to do, who she was, or what had happened. What was clear, was that this woman's voice and story had reverberated around the world in a way never seen before. In a flash, Neda's story unfolded.
When authorities in Iran scrambled to stop the flow of information in the days after the election, I found a way around the restrictions, creating proxy servers and hiding encrypted data inside official Iranian government internet traffic. After the regime stepped up their filtering, Daniel Colascione and myself developed Haystack -- software that is specifically designed to help those in Iran get around the government-imposed filtering of the Internet. We felt it was necessary that her story, like so many others pouring out of Iran, remain in the thoughts and hearts of people around the world. Months later, a film directed by Antony Thomas for HBO was underway to uncover the truth: Neda's family had agreed to share their story on camera and lovingly the tales of their daughter's life.
It's easy for those of us lucky enough to live without government-filtered TV and Internet to view the documentary For Neda, but what about everyone else?
With the support of many people and countless late nights, a plan began to unfold. Similar to a year ago, we all felt it was important for the story of Neda's life to be available for the world to see. The film was available in three languages -- English, Farsi and Arabic -- and twenty-five formats each so the documentary would be viewable on virtually any device. We had massive servers with insane upload capacity and numerous secret FTP servers. There is even a version specially designed to be shared via Bluetooth -- from cell phone to cell phone -- in Iran. All were created in honor of Neda so her death and more importantly her life wouldn't be forgotten.
We are all hoping that her memory will stay alive as the world continues to evolve. Many often wonder who Neda was and what she stood for. This project shows you that she was like any other young Iranian person, male or female, living in Iran. She wanted her voice and to be heard. Not much unlike those in the Western world, she had hoped to make a difference no matter how small or big. I don't think she could have ever imagined what impact she has had on numerous people around the world.
Austin Heap, the Executive Director of the Censorship Research Center, is interviewed in the HBO Documentary For Neda. The film premieres on Monday June 14.
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